Triton standout repeats as national champion

Photo by Paul DeCoursey Todd Small of Iowa Central reacts after winning the second NJCAA national title of his career on Saturday night in Council Bluffs.

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Todd Small completed his second season at Iowa Central in the exact same place as his first: atop the NJCAA podium.

Small earned his second individual national title here Saturday night inside the Mid-American Center, securing the 133-pound bracket crown.

His efforts helped the Tritons finish third overall, as Ethan Karsten and Tyree Sutton claimed runner-up medals.

Despite not crowning an individual champion, Northeastern Oklahoma was able to rack up 147.5 points and earn the team title. The Golden Norsemen, who were ranked No. 1, had a runner-up, two thirds, two fourths, a fifth, two sevenths and an eighth on the podium.

This marks NEO’s second title in three years to go along with a third place showing last season. Clackamas, the runner-up to Iowa Central a year ago, again finished second.

Small, who picked up the 125-pound title last year after winning back-to-back state championships in Georgia, pinned Munkhbat Bat-Erdene of Northwest Kansas in the second round.

After recording an escape and a takedown, Small pinned Bat-Erdene in 4:10. He got the scoring started with a takedown just 31 seconds into the match.

In the Round of 16, the top-ranked Small downed Pratt’s Justin Hershberger via major decision, 16-3. He followed that up with another major decision over Barton’s seventh-rated Gage Gomez before knocking off Colby’s Ottis Rollins in the semifinals on Saturday, 11-5.

Bat-Erdene had topped ICCAC rivals of Small in the quarters and semis, besting No. 5 D’Andre Brumfield of Iowa Western and second-ranked Justin Folley from Ellsworth with a major decision.

Karsten edged third-ranked Isaiah Diggs of Clackamas, 5-4, to move into the finals. He had two falls and a decision in the earlier rounds. In the 157-pound championship match, the second-ranked freshman for the Tritons fell to No. 1 Kade Sander of Barton, 5-4.

The bout went to the tiebreaker overtime periods, with Sander gaining an escape with 19 seconds left. Karsten forced overtime with an escape in the final minute of the third.

In the 197-pound championship, Sutton lost to Western Wyoming’s Wade French, 10-8 in sudden victory. French, ranked seventh, scored a late takedown to force the extra session before getting another takedown to win it.

Sutton, ranked No. 1, went the distance for the first time in the semifinals, pulling out an 8-6 decision over Highline’s Amos Daigbe. On Friday, Sutton earned pins in 22 seconds, 50 seconds and just over three minutes.

Eric Clarke capped off his freshman season by earning fifth place honors at 141 pounds. Clarke was given a medical forfeit over Pratt’s Kevin Kissane in his final match. Earlier in the tournament, he defeated Kissane, 7-3.

Jose Rodriguez placed sixth at 165, dropping a 16-9 decision to North Idaho’s Jacob Swift. Antrez Clagon also finished sixth, earning his second All-American honor. He fell to Northeast Oklahoma’s Alex Kaufmann, 1-0.